Screw Your Wine

Screw cap or cork?

According to some surveys I’ve seen on line, while corks remain the preferred closure among consumers, the acceptance of screw caps has been growing steadily. One recent study in the UK indicates that twice as many people accept screw caps today as compared to 10 years ago.

Ah, but buying a bottle with a screw cap is another matter.

More and more wineries around the world are turning to screw caps, including some very high priced wines. Nevertheless, it seems as though a bias continues against the device known as a Stelvin Closure. Perception is reality and the notion that wines with a screw cap are inferior is still pervasive. At best, many seem to think they belong only on young, inexpensive wines.

It seems to me to be a conflict between the rational/functional versus emotion/sentiment.

Screw caps stop a wine from being corked or tainted by preventing TCA or TBA from traveling through a cork’s pores. Have you ever tasted a cork-tainted wine? Even sniffing it is nasty.

But at the same time, with a screw cap, the flow of oxygen into the wine is prevented and doesn’t allow the wine to age to its full capacity and characteristics. Hence, screw capped wines are perceived as best for a young wine.

The real issue is that people believe that screw caps look cheap and they miss the ritual of the popping cork. Besides, it’s traditional.

A friend of mine puts it this way, “You’re at a restaurant and order the perfect wine to go with the meal…the server brings over a bottle with a screw top, twists it open and hands you the cap to sniff, thereby causing you to cut your nose and spend the night with a tissue trying to blot the cut. I don’t think so.”

For me, an admitted non-aficionado of wine, screw caps are preferable. The convenience is the key — taking a bottle of wine to a picnic; the ease of opening many bottles at a party; and, being able to keep a chilled left over bottle in the fridge without the cork in the way.

But then again, I can’t remember the last time I opened a bottle of wine and had any left over.

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1 comment

  1. I agree that consumers are put off by the perception that screw-caps are cheap. And why shouldn’t they? Opening a bottle of wine with a natural cork is an intrinsic part of the ritual – and pleasure — of drinking wine.

    But a growing number of consumers also prefer cork because of its environmental credentials. Over their life-cycles, screw caps and plastic stoppers produce 10-24 times more greenhouse gases and consume as much as five times more non-renewable energy than natural cork. And cork is recyclable, biodegradable and creates an incentive for sustainable stewardship of cork oak forests that trap carbon and anchor rich ecosystems.

    So whether it’s tradition, the fact that cork allows wine to age properly or its environmental benefits, there are plenty of good reasons to choose it over a hunk of aluminum.

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